Technically, Vesper is constituted as a Republic in which citizens elect representatives every two years to the Senate who in turn pass legislation, debate policy and in theory set the broad direction for the nation. The people elected are often local leaders or respected figures in their districts and while they The Senate in turn selects a trio of officials usually from the ranks of those already in government who form an executive body known as the Tripartite Commission (the individual members of which are known as Commissioners sometimes as Triumvirs amongst the more educated) who work with the civil service to handle the day to day running of the Republic and in emergencies or times of war lead the army. All of this is in theory reviewed for metaphysical implications and general sanity and ratified by a body of magi and esoteric beings called ‘The Assembled Arcane Counselors to the People’.
In theory. In practice the Arcane Counselors – more commonly known as ‘the Thirty’ for their numbers – hold all the real power. This is mostly because the group has more or less absolute veto power and it’s difficult to muster the necessary majorities in the Senate to do much of consequence without the looming threat of imminent doom or more realistically the backing of someone with considerable resources. The Thirty are elected separately from the Senators and because one of the requirements to run is being a ‘mage of acknowledged wisdom or a being of esoteric provenance’ the upshot is that seats on the counsel are passed around a pool of about fifty to sixty mystical bloodlines and otherworldly beings. The Triumvirs are usually selected from that pool as well. Thus far this arrangement has worked out well enough that no one really wants to undertake the necessary work or risk to change it. Besides who wants to piss off the founding elder dragon of the city, who is not coincidentally nearly always one of the Thirty and frequently also one of the Commissioners.
The Thirty can be influenced of course. Firstly it’s rarely necessary to influence all or even many of them which is good because that’s also practically impossible. Beyond a general desire to steer the Republic away from resource draining conflicts and generate as much trade as possible, each of the individual members of the Thirty and the Triumvirate have their own agendas, alliances and vendettas, some of them stretching back decades or centuries. This ever shifting web of converging and diverging interests is acted upon by several power blocs within the city and the nation. Chief among those are the mercantile coalitions, the academics of the Academy, the techno-wizard collectives and the Nighthand.
The Petersburg Bay Company is the largest, most influential of several conglomerations of merchants operating out of the city and one of the few operating any kind of large scale shipping operation. Shipping is a much more dangerous proposition than it used to be in past ages what with rampant demon-piracy, literal sea monsters and parts of the ocean liable to D-shift an unlucky vessel into another reality, and that’s without having to navigate whatever political, metaphorical or literal minefield lies at the other end. Consequently many of the Company’s factors take proactive steps to mitigate whatever risks they can, employing agents to sort out problems and make sure deals are cut and kept in Vesper, Dogwood and ports beyond. The Company is also one of the biggest proponents for an expansion of Vesper’s influence since that means a potential expansion of their markets.
If knowledge is power then the Academy of the Esoteric Arts represents one of the greatest concentrations of arcane power in the entire east between their faculty – the more potent of whom do sometimes serve on the Thirty – and the attached Library which not only houses the collected lore of the school but also serves to house a number of potent and dangerous magical artifacts and texts. As an institution the Academy is quite influential and protective of its interests. They don’t tend to be very active in day to day politics but when they get involved – and often they do when rare or powerful magic or artifacts are in play – people tend to pay attention.
Much of Vesper’s amenities and way of life is sustained by techno-wizardry. Indeed, techno-wizard devices are one of the few things that Vesper manufactures in any quantity. As an industry, the techno-wizard trade tends to be populated with highly individualistic inventor-engineers who can be quite protective of their designs and reputations. Still, there are a number of collectives dedicated to turning out things that take a group effort. The two biggest competitors in the city are the Southern Arcanists Cooperative and the Leyline Transit Association, both of which provide ‘heavy machinery’ in the form of ley line locomotives, skyships and power infrastructure. Both also actively engage the Thirty in matters of magical regulation, infrastructure projects and the acquisition of resources important to their trade such as gem mines and magically rich areas of land. They have particular interest in Saren’s Rest since the high population of demons there makes it possible to acquire rare mystical components and much of the city’s politics in that regard are driven by them.
The Nighthand is the largest group of the city’s underworld and if the rumors are to be believed runs a network that stretches from the Republic, through Dogwood and into the lesser industrial kingdoms to the north. No one openly admits to be associated with them, at least not in polite society, but their leaders and indeed the underworld as a whole is not a force to be ignored in Vesper’s politics where power talks and money is power. Many of the more influential figures in it are businessmen without the arcane background necessary to run for office with the Thirty but with no shortage of ambition for all that. Their interests? Those are as varied as those in the halls of power and their methods are no less ruthless, if somewhat more direct.